Se­cur­ing a greater role for in­no­va­tion in the de­liv­ery of ba­sic ser­vices

IPRDP de­vel­ops and nur­tures STI ca­pa­bil­i­ties that sup­port lo­cal ser­vice de­liv­ery

Mail & Guardian - - Culture - Im­raan Pa­tel

De­vel­op­ments in sci­en­tific knowl­edge, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion (STI) con­tinue to fun­da­men­tally al­ter the way that ser­vices are pro­duced and con­sumed. Such de­vel­op­ments not only pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant new op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal gov­ern­ment, but also in­tro­duce new chal­lenges and dif­fi­cul­ties to be man­aged.

Glob­ally and na­tion­ally, sci­en­tific progress and new tech­nolo­gies are im­pact­ing on all of the core ser­vices and re­main press­ing chal­lenges for most lo­cal govern­ments. This in­cludes pro­vid­ing clean drink­ing wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion, elec­tric­ity, shel­ter, waste re­moval and roads, as well as new ar­eas of re­spon­si­bil­ity such as in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity.

The need to de­velop and nur­ture STI ca­pa­bil­i­ties that sup­port lo­cal ser­vice de­liv­ery is of­ten un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated and ne­glected. The cur­rent ser­vice de­liv­ery land­scape in­cludes too many ex­am­ples of in­ap­pro­pri­ate tech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems, or good tech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems not im­ple­mented ad­e­quately.

In­ap­pro­pri­ate tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions can have wide-rang­ing im­pacts. This in­cludes a de­nial of ba­sic ser­vices, fre­quent ser­vice in­ter­rup­tions and higher longterm costs for both the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and its cit­i­zens.

Lo­cal govern­ments in ru­ral ar­eas are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble and face two mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing chal­lenges. Firstly, weak in­her­ited STI ca­pa­bil­i­ties that are dif­fi­cult to strengthen for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Sec­ondly, a small pool of so­lu­tions specif­i­cally de­signed to re­spond to the con­text of dif­fi­cult-to-reach ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

Where so­lu­tions ex­ist, they of­ten do not find their way into prac­tice, fur­ther re­duc­ing the in­cen­tive to en­large the pool of avail­able so­lu­tions.

Over the last few years, this re­al­ity is slowly chang­ing at na­tional and global lev­els, with greater com­mit­ment and sup­port for in­no­va­tions that en­hance in­clu­sive devel­op­ment.

Guided by this re­al­ity, the depart­ment of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy (DST) in­tro­duced the In­no­va­tion Part­ner­ship for Ru­ral Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme (IPRDP) as a pi­lot in 2013. The pi­lot was fa­cil­i­tated by donor fund­ing lever­aged from the Euro­pean Union in the form of gen­eral bud­get sup­port.

Learn­ing from pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences in sup­port­ing qual­ity of life im­prove­ments through STI, the IPRDP in­cluded a de­lib­er­ate fo­cus on build­ing in­no­va­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Ca­pa­bil­ity devel­op­ment com­ple­mented the core value-add, which re­mained the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion and demon­stra­tion of new so­lu­tions at scale in part­ner­ship with lo­cal govern­ments.

Over the past four years, the fol­low­ing tech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems were demon­strated at scale through the IPRDP by sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties and pub­lic re­search or­gan­i­sa­tions in South Africa with vary­ing lev­els of tech­nol­ogy im­prove­ment and op­ti­mi­sa­tion as well as learn­ing:

ment of­fer­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties an al­ter­na­tive, cost-ef­fec­tive tech­nol- ogy. It’s a self-sus­tain­ing sys­tem that op­er­ates in­de­pen­dently of elec­tric­ity and ex­pen­sive chem­i­cals, and which could be ef­fec­tively op­er­ated in spite of fi­nan­cial and ca­pac­ity con­straints;

hy­dropower, for ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion within the cur­rent reg­u­la­tory and pol­icy frame­work for elec­tri­fi­ca­tion;

pour flush la­trines as an al­ter­na­tive, sig­nif­i­cant step up from ex­ist­ing Ven­ti­lated Im­proved Pit (VIP) la­trines. They pro­vide greater user sat­is­fac­tion and more ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance;

and man­age­ment of wa­ter ser­vice de­liv­ery in­ci­dents through the in­te­gra­tion of an ICT-based Cor­rec­tive Ac­tion Re­quest and Re­port­ing Sys­tem into the op­er­a­tions of ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties;

tech­nolo­gies as a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to pro­vide clean drink­ing wa­ter at the house­hold level; and

sup­port the devel­op­ment of Wa­ter Safety Plans and Waste­water Risk Abate­ment Plans.

Com­ple­ment­ing the demon­stra­tions was a tar­geted pro­gramme to en­hance STI ca­pa­bil­i­ties. This in­cluded the in­tro­duc­tion of a

In­dex as a self-as­sess­ment and learn­ing tool. De­vel­oped by the Hu­man Sci­ence Re­search Coun­cil in part­ner­ship with the DST, the in­dex pro­vides a way for lo­cal govern­ments to self-as­sess their ma­tu­rity with re­spect to the man­age­ment of in­no­va­tion. In this way, lo­cal govern­ments will be in a po­si­tion to iden­tify in­ter­ven­tions that help to ma­ture in­no­va­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Fur­ther ef­forts to sup­port de­ci­sion-mak­ing in­cluded the devel­op­ment of sci­en­tific de­ci­sion­sup­port tools that en­able lo­cal govern­ments to com­pare the sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and as­sess­ment of var­i­ous san­i­ta­tion so­lu­tions in or­der to iden­tify the most ap­pro­pri­ate san­i­ta­tion so­lu­tion in a given con­text.

En­hanced com­mu­nity un­der­stand­ing of the im­prove­ments and chal­lenges that re­sult from tech­nol­ogy is cru­cial for the longterm sus­tain­abil­ity of any so­lu­tion in­tro­duced. An im­por­tant com­ple­men­tary in­ter­ven­tion of the IPRDP was the ini­ti­a­tion of a com­mu­nity-based jour­nal­ist in­ter­ven­tion. Pro­vided with train­ing and other sup­port, a pas­sion­ate and com­mit­ted group of 19 young jour­nal­ists en­hanced com­mu­ni­ca­tion us­ing a va­ri­ety of medi­ums in­clud­ing ra­dio and print. Ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion was en­sured by us­ing the many lan­guages that are spo­ken in South Africa.

The cur­rent IPRDP pi­lot has helped to cre­ate the sys­tems, ap­proaches and modal­i­ties that can ac­cel­er­ate the eval­u­a­tion and even­tual in­te­gra­tion of new sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions into the ser­vice de­liv­ery land­scape. Ef­forts are al­ready un­der­way to build on this ca­pa­bil­ity, through fur­ther part­ner­ships, so as to en­hance the use of STI in meet­ing ex­ist­ing and new ser­vice de­liv­ery obli­ga­tions.

Above: DST DDG: So­cio-Eco­nomic In­no­va­tion Im­raan Pa­tel

Left: From left to right, John God­dard World Bank, Sizwe Nx­as­ana, Chair­man of the Na­tional Student Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme, (NSFAS), Dr Azar Jam­mine NACI Coun­cil mem­ber par­tic­i­pated in a panel dis­cus­sion dur­ing the launch event dis­cussing the STI 2016 re­port. Pho­tos: Sup­plied

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.